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Beginners Guide To Trellising

Beginners Guide To Trellising

What is trellising? Why should you be trellising? How do I start trellising?

So many question you might have it could seem overwhelming, but no need to panic thats why we are here to answer these question for you. Trellising plants is not a new concept by any means and has been around for a very long time, like the 1st century long time! Trellising plants helps in variety of ways to help get consistent results from your crops with higher yielding returns.

Before trellises were created wild plants would roam free on the ground and sprawl out in every direction. The smart ones would climb up tree trunks or other plants anything to get them off the ground. The ground was a inhospitable place to be for a young or established plant. It made plants easy targets for predators allowing them to eat growing leaves and fruits. Being on the ground was not a good environment as it is infested with pest and wet conditions that could cause disease. For some plants being able to grow up and away from the ground was insurmountable to it success in surviving and passing on its genetics through pollination or seeds. Oddly enough, being eaten or being on the ground aided plants to be successful in passing on their genetics. However, for us who want to consume them it was not flavorful to have our plants on the ground in that environment  Without the aide of a human or the aide of a trellis the life of a plant was a hard one for us to get better yields. 

What is a trellis?

A trellis is an architectural structure, usually made from wood, bamboo, metal or plastic to support and display climbing plants. There are many types of trellis for different plants, but all plants benefit from growing with the support of a trellis. Now considering that most here are home gardeners and not commercial farmers we will stick to trellises of backyard scale, however there should be no reason why us home gardeners cannot benefit or recreate what commercial growers do in our backyard! Plant trellises are intended to support growing vines through out their life cycle, making it possible for growing plants to support a heavy crop load increasing the yield and giving structure to the plant. A trellis is two fold, it is meant to direct the growth of vines in the manner and direction you desire, giving it structure. By structure we mean that each plant has it own space to grow (uniformity) with good air circulation & sunlight exposure with the idea to minimize contact or overshadowing. This will give each plant the opportunity to thrive with a consistent environment and is why all commercial farmers use trellising to optimize their yields into a consistent return, which is good for business. On the other hand, as plants start to grow fruit the weight of the fruit can be come heavy enough to snap the branch without the proper support it needs. This is why plants that produce fruits need to be support to help them off-set the weight of the crop load so that you will be able to harvest something at the end of the season. Work smarter not harder is the motto here. A trellis is nothing more than a support mechanism for your plants to grow big, grow strong, and make growing easier.

Why should you be trellising?

As mention before trellising is the sure way to help your plants succeed. Trellising will help your plant focus energy towards fruit production than energy towards stem growth. What we mean is that a plant that doesn't have the proper support will need to put a lot of energy into thickening the stems so that the stem can support the fruit load or simply fall over. Branches that snap can put the plant at risk of disease or decline, especially if the branch is the main stem  Plants are smart creatures they will know if a branch has enough support or not, putting valuable energy into secondary growth (thickening of the stem), but not into fruit production which is no good for us. We want all our plants energy to go into fruit production to maximize our return into a healthy harvest! Additionally, we want plants to be off the ground. We do not want our plants growing in moist and pest infested environments that can eat or make our plants sick. Being up and off the ground will help to reduce those problems and put our plants into a more friendlier environment. Trellised plants are easier to harvest and maintain as it will be easier to spot the produce with less bending over and searching for them. Plus, fruits will be healthier, uniform, and bigger than their ground grown counterparts perfect for market growers or showing off to your friends and family.

What are the different types of trellis?

  1. Horizontal trellis: is growing plants in a row fashion with the help of trellis netting, wire mesh, or twine. It extends parallel to the ground and if you have the space is the least labor intensive method. Horizontal trellis is suitable for many crops. 


    - No need for pruning once the plant has grown over the trellis (easy to pick)
    - Provides maximum sunlight and air circulation for plants
    - Very easy to install
    - Makes harvesting easier

    - Takes more space than vertical trellis

  2. Vertical Trellis: Widely used trellis as it is the best for space saving and maximizing your grow space. Instead of plants growing outward on top of  the trellis they grow upward. This too will increases air circulation and sunlight exposure. With this method branches will need to be secure to the trellis as their natural tendency will want to fall. As vines grow you want to weave or secure them to the trellis to keep them from falling.

    - Maximize the amount of growing space if you're limited
    - Increase air circulation and sunlight exposure
    - Will provide shade for other crops that might need it
    - Decrease the need to bend when gardening

    - More labor intensive of continually securing vines to the trellis 

What will you need to get started? 

Support frame that netting / mesh / twine can be secured to. Please see our DIY Trellis Guide 

  • Support framework 
  • Trellis netting
  • Wire mesh
  • Twine 

List of common plants that can be trellis and benefit from being trellised.

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Squash
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Melons
  • Hardy Kiwi
  • Grapes

In Summary

Trellising is great way to help you grow your plants easier with higher yields. There are two primary ways to use trellises and each one has their own benefits depending on how much space you have available. It's easy to get started and you only need a handful of materials to start trellising right away! See our guide here.


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